We’ve all been there and done that. Joining a new team as a fresher or moving to a new job is not uncommon for many of us. A different ambience with a new team of people can be exciting and sometimes disconcerting too. If you are smart, you can integrate smoothly into a group of people who have been working together for a long time.
So you are the new kid on the block and would be infiltrating a hitherto unknown team that has been cohesively working toward a common goal. Your transition can be pain-free if you are well prepared to integrate effortlessly into your new team. To integrate yourself into a new team you need to understand your role first. The rules of the game depend on whether you are a team member or a team leader.
The teammate game
- If you are a fresher or would be joining as one of the team members then the first thing you should do is to identify a mentor and build a relationship to enable you to settle faster into your new team. Your mentor’s knowledge about what your job entails, targets, the company culture and its people are priceless and would be a great shot in the arm for your smooth integration.
- An astute move would be to identify the key players who are the chief coordinators of your team’s tasks. It is important to understand team dynamics and observe interactions and build amicable relationships with the key players too.
- Of foremost importance is your job knowledge and expertise. When your team members come to respect you for these, you have cleared a major hurdle in conveying the strong message that you are adding value to the team. Understand your job, develop requisite skillsets and bring in extra skills and knowledge to your job.
- Understand with clarity what is required to execute the job perfectly. Know your targets and deadlines and keep checking with your team leader from time to time as these keep changing.
- Put down in e-mail to your team leader all that you have done and ask for feedback and further guidance to do your job well.
- Remember to draw your own boundaries and do not end up helping too much or taking on too many responsibilities or tasks to please your team leader or other team members. Delivering your task well and within deadline is good enough.
- Your role in the team has been decided on the basis of your existing skillsets and knowledge; but let the group dynamics reveal your contributions instead of making it known overtly. A sensible approach would be to deliver your contributions with humility and respect, without intimidating or challenging other colleagues.
- You have to be seen to be a part of your team, which necessitates involvement from your side. Convey the impression that you are a team player. Be cordial with your teammates and try to observe and understand each member’s role in the team. Try to help whenever you see an opportunity, without making the team member feel that you are trying to flaunt your skills or knowledge.
- When you are new, initially it is a good idea to listen and observe more than talk much about yourself or your previous job/company.
- Try to develop camaraderie with your colleagues outside of work too. Work-related social events are common in many organizations, especially on Friday evenings. Circulate and meet up with your teammates and, if possible, with other important persons in your organizations. Center your conversations on hobbies and interests outside of work.
- Your team member should view you as an approachable person, which facilitates easy integration with your new office. Remember to have an inviting smile which will lure people to come to you and introduce themselves.
- In a new job situation, sometimes the ambience, work practices, systems, procedures and culture may not be to your liking. Try to resist temptation to rant or complain about these; accept the change completely.
- In your attempts to embrace change and amalgamate with the new company culture, don’t lose yourself. It is important to be yourself and stand for your uniqueness that will be an important addition to the existing culture. Be confident of yourself and your skillsets.
Leader all the way
So you are stepping in to lead a pre-established team! Now that requires a lot of sensitivity and patience.
- While you may have been chosen to lead a team based on your prior successes, remember you are entering a new territory and are exposed to a new culture and a new set of people. Your tasks and challenges are new. While you can bank on your smartness and intelligence that enabled you to handle past challenges, you need to give up on any pre-conceived plan to handle new challenges. It is important to understand these challenges first before you work out an action plan.
- Be disarming, genuine and transparent with your new team members. Encourage them to be transparent too and to trust you. Get to know each of them on a personal level. Be supportive and helpful to enable them to complete their tasks. Understand their constraints and offer suggestions to overcome them without giving an impression that you are the boss.
- The sooner you learn every aspect of the business and formulate plans for further progress, the better. During the course of learning, convey the clear impression that you are in fact learning the ropes and not trying to micromanage the team.
- Ensure you have access to basic tools and technology to make your transition easier. Learn about the company well and about the systems and procedures so that you are on the same page from day one. It will not only help increase your self-confidence but will also make your team confident about you.
- Before you make changes, ensure you have understood the business and the corporate culture and practices clearly. If you need to make changes, take your teammates on your side, ensure you do not intimidate key players in your team and do it with the knowledge of the people who brought you on board.
- As a new team leader, it is important to respect all your team members. You need to understand that some of them who owe allegiance to their earlier team leader may need some time to understand you before they can shift their loyalty to you. This is a very sensitive issue and you need to stand up for what you are while at the same, time conveying the message that you should all work together amicably for the benefit of all.
- Do not try to pry information about the previous team leader. See that conversations are productive and team members do not resort to criticism of the previous leader or his/her work.
- Assess the strength of your team first. Keep in mind the goals and vision of the company and the aspirations of the team members. Understanding the strengths of each team member will enable you to leverage their expertise when the need arises.
- Once you are confident of your understanding, go ahead and make the informed changes you envision would benefit the company. Share your belief about the positive impact these changes would make with your team, company management and other stakeholders.
- Personally, as a team leader, you need to rein in your ego. Find common ground and connect with your team and the management at a personal level.
When people come to view you as an ambassador of your new company, you have indeed arrived! And don’t forget to give a warm welcome and lend your support to another new team member! After all, cohesive team members bring out great results!